puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzling (audio) , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic : complicate, entangle
3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity
2a : something that puzzles
b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər How to pronounce puzzler (audio) , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb

The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Noun

a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Historians have long puzzled over the fate of the missing star, which was likely clipped from the banner more than a century ago. Maddie Burakoff, Smithsonian, "David Copperfield Welcomes New Citizens With a Magic Show and a History Lesson," 14 June 2019 Doctors have long been puzzled by white coat hypertension (WCH), a condition that causes a person’s blood pressure reading to be high in a doctor’s office but normal at home. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "What is White Coat Hypertension? New Study Links the Condition to Increased Risk of Heart Trouble," 11 June 2019 For years, João Duarte has puzzled over a seemingly boring underwater expanse off the coast of Portugal. National Geographic, "A tectonic plate may have peeled apart—and that could shrink the Atlantic Ocean," 6 May 2019 But scientists have been puzzled by the fact that not everyone with B*57 is an elite controller—nor do all elite controllers carry B*57. Apoorva Mandavilli, Scientific American, "How to Kill HIV: Target Its “Influencers”," 2 May 2019 The mystery of what a black hole looks like has puzzled scientists and artists alike for decades. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, "Drawing the Invisible: The Many Ways Artists Have Imagined Black Holes," 9 Apr. 2019 Case in point: his Friday morning encounter with a trio of royal wedding fans in homemade crowns, which puzzled him. Ashley Hoffman, Time, "No One Cares Less About the Royal Wedding Than This Royal Wedding Reporter," 18 May 2018 Brown’s sometimes puzzling behavior isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Raiders’ whirlwind off-season — the eight most significant developments," 14 June 2019 Bits of the surveillance video, now playing on CNN and other media, are blurry and puzzling. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Here's the Cuba Gooding Jr video: Does it show him groping accuser?," 14 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To solve the puzzle Mr Melstrom and Dr Irmis turned to Orientation Patch Count Rotated (OPCR) analysis. The Economist, "Vegetarian crocodiles once roamed the world," 28 June 2019 Time, new technology and context will be important tools to solving those puzzles. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Best to notify experts of archaeological finds," 22 June 2019 To solve the puzzle, the researchers conducted four studies in an effort to explore the motivating factors that lead to high-status consumption decisions. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, "It’s hard to resist buying Gloria Vanderbilt jeans — even for low-income earners," 18 June 2019 Depending on the context, such a coloring can provide an effective way to seat guests at a wedding, schedule factory tasks for different time slots, or even solve a sudoku puzzle. Quanta Magazine, "A 53-Year-Old Network Coloring Conjecture Is Disproved," 17 June 2019 But the real star of the show here might be Gooigi, Luigi's gelatinous doppelganger that can split apart from his progenitor to help solve simple puzzles. Sam Machkovech And Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "The best games, demos, and tech of E3 2019," 14 June 2019 Mensans said their love of games stems from a desire to solve puzzles and figure out the world. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Mensa’s Debate: Deep Thinking or Games and Drinking?," 1 Jan. 2019 Solving the puzzle of how much and what kind of life insurance can be a very tricky process. Stewart Welch, AL.com, "What to Do About Life Insurance," 30 Mar. 2018 The pieces of this puzzle are realistic, but some of them — such as a rock outcropping topped with trees both real and fake — are incongruous. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Whimsy rendered starkly, in black and white," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about puzzle

Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puzzle

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 : something that perplexes : mystery

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on puzzle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puzzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puzzle

Spanish Central: Translation of puzzle

Nglish: Translation of puzzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of puzzle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on puzzle

What made you want to look up puzzle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!